Bernstein Today

“Mambo!” in Miami

Between our tripartite activities in Philadelphia and Sarasota, I scampered over to Miami to host my “LB at 100: Forever Young” kids’ concert – the same one I presented with the Philadelphia Orchestra in early February, about nine cities ago – this time with the New World Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas’s visionary musical academy.

It happened to be Miami Music Week, which had nothing to do with the New World Symphony, but rather was a convocation of club DJ’s – something I wouldn’t have known about had my hotel room not been situated right above the swimming pool, where the dance party was being held. As I unpacked at 4 pm, the deafening pulse had already begun, and was guaranteed to continue all night. After some tense moments of wrestling between creeping desperation and not wanting to be a pain in the neck, I feverishly repacked, left my bags in the room, and as I dashed to rehearsal, told the check-in desk to figure out some other, quieter room for my bags to be in when I returned that evening. (It worked out.)

Meanwhile, I speed-walked to rehearsal in my favorite place, the Frank Geary-designed New World Center. Not only is the building breathtaking from every interior angle, but it’s also filled with wonderful people: the enthusiastic, accomplished staff as well as the Fellows, those gifted young musicians at the cusp of their professional careers.

Some of the Fellows were assigned solos in the various Bernstein excerpts, while a few others took turns speaking about some of the concepts and devices in the music. (New World takes very seriously the importance of today’s up-and-coming musicians acquiring the skills to communicate verbally with their audiences.) Meanwhile Clyde Scott, the NWS’s secret weapon, had put together inventive visuals to accompany the music and narration: everything from dancing sailors to pixillated mamboers.

Jamie Bernstein narrates "Leonard Bernstein at 100: Forever Young" with the New World Symphony. (Photo courtesy of NWS.)
Jamie Bernstein narrates “Leonard Bernstein at 100: Forever Young” with the New World Symphony. (Photo courtesy of NWS.)

The two concerts the next day were a rip-roaring success. As usual, the kids reveled in yelling “MAMBO!” with all their might. Instead of my holding up a sign, Clyde had designed big “MAMBO!” projections, which appeared on the hall’s unique “sails” above the stage.

I would have liked to stay on and chat with the audience – but I had to jump in a car and get driven across the state — along “Alligator Alley” — to meet my sibs in Sarasota for our next LB at 100 adventure.

About the author

Jamie Bernstein is a writer, narrator, and film maker. Beginning with “The Bernstein Beat,” a family concert about her father’s music modeled after his groundbreaking Young People’s Concerts, Jamie has continued to design, write and narrate concerts for worldwide audiences of all ages about the classical music repertoire. Jamie is the co-director of an award-winning film documentary, Crescendo: the Power of Music, which is available on Netflix. Jamie’s memoir, Famous Father Girl, will be published by HarperCollins this June.

About this content

Jamie, Alexander, and Nina are taking you around the globe, celebrating their father’s legacy with you and adoring fans at thousands of Bernstein Centennial events. Read more travel blogging in Bernstein Today.


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